Ontogenetic and seasonal changes in lipid and fatty acid/alcohol compositions of the dominant Antarctic copepods Calanus propinquus, Calanoides acutus and Rhincalanus gigas
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Lipid compositions of the dominant Antarctic copepods Calanoides acutus, Rhincalanus gigas and Calanus propinquus from the Weddell Sea have been investigated in great detail. Copepods were collected during summer in 1985 and late spring/early winter in 1986. The analyses revealed specific adaptations in the lipid biochemistry of these species which result in very different lipid components. The various copepodite stages of C. acutus synthesize wax esters with long-chain monounsaturated moieties and especially the alcohols consisted mainly of 20:1(n-9) and 22:1(n-11). R. gigas also generates wax esters, but with moieties of shorter chain length. The fatty alcohols consisted mainly of 14:0 and 16:0 components, while the major fatty acids were 20:5, 18:4 and 22:6, of which 18:4 probably originated from dietary input. In contrast, C. propinquus accumulates triacylglycerols, a very unusual depot lipid in polar calanoid copepods. Major fatty acids in C. propinquus were the long-chain monounsaturates 22:1(n-9) and 22:1(n-11), which may comprise up to 50% of total fatty acids. In C. acutus and C. propinquus there was a clear increase of long-chain fatty acids with increasing developmental stage. In contrast, the fatty acid and alcohol composition of the R. gigas copepodite stages were characterized by the dominance of the polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as high amounts of the monounsaturates 18:1(n-9) and 16:1(n-7). There was a considerable decrease of the dietary fatty acid 18:4(n-3) towards the older stages during summer; in late winter/early spring 18:4 was only detected in very low amounts. This tendency was also found in the other two species, but was less pronounced. In all three species dry weight and lipid content increased exponentially from younger to older stages. The highest portion of wax esters, or of triacylglycerols in C. propinquus, was found in the adults. Dry weight and lipid content were generally higher during summer. In late winter/early spring the variability was more pronounced and lipid-rich specimens showed a selective retention of long-chain monounsaturated fatty acids, whereas in lipid-poor specimens these fatty acids were very much depleted.
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